These infographics attempt to illuminate the complexities of ammunition, in the interest of informed debate about possible new legislation and regulations.
The policy proposals that President Obama announced on Wednesday (organized by category here) outlined a wide-ranging agenda, including twenty-three items that could be implemented through executive action and twelve recommendations for action from Congress.* The items are a mixed bag, ranging from immediately actionable ideas to proposals that may never make it through Congress. Some are vague (launching a national dialogue about mental illness) while others are very specific (confirming a director for the ATF). In the coming weeks, PAGV will explore, seek input on, and respond in detail to the specific items. Here we outline a few of our immediate reactions as parents and concerned citizens.
- This is an important first step. It is gratifying to see the President both take direct action on a number of important gun-related matters, and publicly initiate the conversation about what needs to change to address the ongoing epidemic of gun violence in the United States.
- We strongly agree with the need for a comprehensive legislative and executive agenda, one that attempts to solve gun violence by addressing gun access, gun safety, school safety, societal factors, and mental illness. Reducing the threat of violence to our children will clearly require such a broad-based, comprehensive effort. Any flaws in individual proposals do not invalidate the entire effort.
- There will be something for everyone to like, and for everyone to hate, in the proposals. Given the current political climate, this may be inevitable. Due to the absence of thorough research into the causes and effects of gun violence, there is little agreement about its remedies, beyond a desire to see it end. To some, allocating $10,000,000 to research the connection between video games and violence seems like the worst kind of pandering to the NRA’s “it’s-everything-but-the-guns” narrative. To others, requiring background checks on all gun sales seems like the first step in a government takeover.
- Some of the proposals concur in fundamental ways with recent policy proposals from Parents Against Gun Violence. One of the executive orders, for example, directed the Centers for Disease Control to initiate research into the health effects of gun access (PAGV Policy Plank #2, Empower Researchers), while a proposal to Congress urges legislators to allocate $30,000,000 for schools to develop emergency-response plans (Policy Plank #5, Protect Schools).
- While President Obama implemented a number of executive actions, the biggest proposed changes will all require legislative action. All of the major funding allocations (with the exception of $20 million to encourage states to share background data) also have to go through Congress. In the coming weeks, concerned parents and citizens need to make sure that our voices and perspectives are heard in the legislative debates.
* Note that Obama actually signed only three executive orders (technically “presidential memorandums“) on Wednesday. The 23 “executive actions” named in the Obama proposal describe general policy priorities that would not require Congressional approval for implementation. However, many of the proposed “executive actions” come far from implemented (or implementable) public policy at this point.
Parents Against Gun Violence was founded by a nationwide coalition of mothers and fathers hours after the Newtown, CT killings. In the weeks that followed, our members were busy collecting and studying scientific, peer-reviewed research on the causes of gun violence and gun accidents, and strategizing about how to reduce both.
At the same time, we have engaged in intensive dialogue with concerned citizens from across the political spectrum. Through this process of research and dialogue, we have developed a set of five policy planks that we believe can gain support across the political spectrum, and that provide a comprehensive approach to reducing gun violence. We encourage all concerned citizens to contact their representatives, senators and any other elected officials as well to advocate for these policy proposals. If you would like to sign the petition promoting this platform, click on the Change.org petition here.
As parents, we urge lawmakers and the President to consider the following:
Policy Plank 1.) Empower law enforcement
a.) Approve Andrew Traver, President Obama’s nominee for Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives. Without a leader, the Bureau is hampered in its ability to enforce its congressionally mandated responsibilities, such as investigating and prosecuting straw purchasers who buy guns for criminals. More »
On January 19, gun advocacy groups want us to “appreciate guns” with their Gun Appreciation Day. But we would rather appreciate children on that day, declared a National Service Day. Instead of appreciating guns, here are five things you can do to show your appreciation for the children who will grow up to be our future.
1. Devote your Day of Service to a children’s charity or organization.
2. Teach a child a new skill–or ask them to teach you something!
3. Upload a photo of you hugging your child on our Facebook page.
4. Familiarize yourself with what the American Academy of Pediatrics says about firearm safety and children.
5. If you do have a gun at home, take this opportunity to double check that it is stored safely and cannot be accessed by anyone but a responsible adult.
You can also download our Child Appreciation Day press release.
Want to help spread the word? Check out our page on Child Appreciation Day to share memes on Facebook!
contributed by Jennifer in California
On New Year’s Eve, I took my four young children and parents and sister to Old Sacramento to watch the family fireworks show at 9pm. The show was awesome, even though it was really cold!
We headed back to our friends’ house to celebrate the New Year in a warmer place. When we turned on the television to watch the ball drop, we were shocked to see that there had been a shooting at the place we had just left! A fight had broken out in a bar near where we had been watching the fireworks. It escalated, and someone pulled out a gun. One of the bar employees was shot and killed when he tried to intervene. The other man in the fight was also shot and killed. The gunman, a security guard, and a woman standing near the fight were also shot but not fatally.
This was all within 10 minutes of the time that we’d left that spot. If we had stayed 8 minutes longer, my children would have heard the whole thing. They might have seen it. They could have been hit by a stray bullet.
The gunman was caught and arrested by the police. The New Year’s celebration and fireworks show that was planned for Old Sacramento was cancelled. And I was angry.
Angry again. Just a few months ago, we moved into a new home because our family has grown. We chose the area because it was so quiet and there were a lot of families with children. Then a young man moved in three houses down the street and things changed. He threw a party one night that got out of control at about 2am. My three oldest kids were asleep and I was up feeding my infant son. My husband was at work. Suddenly, I hear seven gun shots next door. I was startled and grabbed my phone. I dialed 911 and ran into my daughters’ room. It’s in the front of the house, and I was afraid they might get hit by a stray bullet. As I was talking to the 911 operator, I grabbed one of my daughters and moved her to my room in the back of the house. I set my son down with her and grabbed my other two daughters and moved them too.
As I was talking to the operator, I looked out the window and saw a ton of people running down the street away from the party. I ran back into my room to calm down my kids. They were scared and crying. Then we heard more gun shots. My children screamed in fear. I was terrified, but needed to be calm. I did my best to soothe them and reassure them that police were on their way.
After a few minutes, the police knocked on my door. I let them in and they told me that they had cleared the area. They told me that nobody was shot, but the gunmen were gone by the time they got there. They checked my backyard to make sure it was clear and gave my children stickers. They told me that everything was okay now, but to call back if anything happened again. My children slept in our bed that night… and the next night… and the next night. It took a full week before they felt comfortable sleeping in their own rooms again. They still get scared sometimes.
A few days later, the shooter was arrested. I thought that would be the end of it, but it wasn’t. Two weeks later, it happened again. Same house, same situation. I called the police again. This time, someone had been hit. And a bullet had hit the wall of the house across the street. My friends live there, and the wall that was hit belonged to a child’s bedroom. She was okay, but her parents were furious. I would have been, too.
Since then there have been no more parties, and no more shootings. My children are still struggling with it though. They still talk about the shootings. They still express fear at bedtime and want to sleep next to me.
My reaction to these incidents has been anger. Safe neighborhoods aren’t safe after all. Safe family events are pretty dangerous, as it turns out. I’m so tired of all of this gun violence. I shouldn’t be scared to send my children to school, take them to a movie, the mall, to church or a holiday celebration. They should feel safe in their own home, but they don’t. I should be able to take my kids to public places or tuck them into bed at night and feel safe, but I don’t. I feel paranoid. I feel like I have to keep my children close and be on the lookout for a madman with a gun. I have to be ready to duck and cover at any moment just in case there’s a shooting. Even in my own home, I have to be ready to jump into action to protect my kids.
Every child has at some point been afraid of the boogeyman. A parent should be able to look under the bed or in the closet to reassure their child that there’s no boogeyman, that they are safe. I can’t do that. My children are scared of madmen with guns. And that is very real.
And I am angry that people are so willing to protect the rights of those who want to own a gun, but too scared to stand up and speak for those who can’t speak for themselves. Our children deserve that we speak up for them. I am not willing to just sit back and wait for people to realize that the situation in our country is out of control and needs to be changed. I want to be part of making that change so I can look my children in the eye and say without hesitation, “There’s no more boogeyman.”
In the next several weeks we will see new gun legislation proposed in both the House of Representatives (sponsored by Rep. Diana DeGette and others) and the Senate (sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein and others). Both bills will call for restrictions on the sale of high capacity magazines.
For the thousands of Americans who die each year by gun suicide and gun accidents, these bills will have little effect—one bullet is enough to kill. There is ample evidence, however, to suggest that an effective ban on high-capacity magazines will reduce the number of deaths in gun homicides, especially in mass shooting scenarios.
A seven-year-long study of gunshot victims observed an increasing incidence of gunshot victims who had been shot multiple times. The proportion of gunshot victims with two or more gunshot wounds grew from 26% in the early 80s to 43% by 1990. Over the same span of years, semiautomatic handguns like the Beretta 92 and Glock 17 were replacing the .38 and .357 caliber revolvers that had been the most popular handguns in the United States in the preceding decade. The ammunition capacity in a fully-loaded handgun rose from typically six rounds to typically 15 rounds, and shooters exploited that advantage, shooting their victims multiple times and increasing the likelihood of fatal injury.
Parents Against Gun Violence researchers have identified 37 mass shooting incidents (excluding robberies and armed confrontations) involving more than 6 victims in the United States since 1945. In 35 of 37, the perpetrators carried semiautomatic weapons. In 33 of 37, the perpetrators carried magazines with a capacity greater than 10 rounds. In the recent mass shootings in Tucson, Aurora, and Newtown, the perpetrators sought out inordinately large magazines, including the 100-round drum magazine James Holmes used to shoot 70 people in a movie theater. These mass murderers clearly believe that a higher-capacity magazine will equate to more fatalities.
Opponents of the high-capacity magazine ban will point out that smaller capacity magazines can be rapidly exchanged, and will argue that such a ban will not slow or hinder a mass shooter. Online videos show expert shooters removing an empty magazine and replacing it with a fully loaded magazine with dazzling speed. Let’s remember, though, that these videos are impressive precisely because the reloading skills depicted are remarkably rare—it takes years of practice to achieve such proficiency, and the perpetrators of most mass shootings are young men with limited experience. There are cowboy trick shooters who can operate a single-action revolver or lever-action rifle with astonishing speed—but Annie Oakley doesn’t fit the profile of a mass shooter. We’re not seeking laws to stop Wild Bill; we’re seeking laws to stop Jared Loughner. More »